Years back, on the otherwise forgettable sketch program “Mind of Mencia,” comedian Carlos Mencia contacted his regional Department of Motor Vehicles and queried a worker on the accessibility of vanity license plates.
The n-bomb? No can do, said the DMV staff member. Exactly what about a variation on that? Nope. Offensive terms for Asians or Native Americans? I’m sorry, sir, however we cannot grant your request.
Finally, Mencia informed the DMV clerk he had one more name to attempt: “W-E-T-B-A-C-K” the comedian said, spelling the slur out in the most stereotyped Mexican accent he might summon.
” Yes, sir, that’s available.”
The sector ends with a faux-outraged Mencia shouting “What the–?”.
While Mencia isn’t really precisely understood for thoughtful political commentary, he struck on a vital point with that spoof– that the notoriously inefficient and tone-deaf U.S. government is quite possibly the worst judge which words stink, and which words aren’t.
The problem has ended up being appropriate once again in 2016, as the Supreme Court prepares to handle two cases challenging the Patent and Trademark Office, which like the DMV, has somehow end up being the political correctness authorities.
It appears that patent examiners and lawyers who focus on trademark law have now end up being the arbiters of what’s offending and exactly what’s appropriate.
If the Supreme Court decides to take the cases, justices will hear from a band and an expert football team opposing the patent office’s arbitrary decisions. The football team, the Washington Redskins, is familiar to anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for years. The band is less known– it’s a synth-rock clothing comprised completely of Asian Americans, who go by the band name The Slants.
Simon Tam, the creator of The Slants, described atrioventricular bundle’s name to TIME publication. The name, he said, is indicated to undercut racism by taking an offending word far from individuals who would use it disparagingly.
” The name came before the band did,” Tam said. “I was talking to a friend of mine and saying I desire to start this all-Asian band and address some underlying concerns with racism. It really sounds like an enjoyable, 80s, New Wave-kind of band.
While the patent office has refused hallmarks to The Slants and the Redskins, it’s granted hallmarks to a company called Jizz that makes underwear, a bakery company called Baked by A Negro, a clothes company called Dick Balls, a saucier called Gringo Style Salsa, and a coffee company called Big Titty Blend, according to ThinkProgress.
So we live in a world where patent attorneys choose that a band ironically utilizing a name like The Slants don’t be worthy of a trademark, however a company called Jizz does. Does anybody else see the issue with that?
” Government efforts to restrict registration of hallmarks that are scandalous, immoral and disparaging have actually been irregular and inefficient,” Megan M. Carpenter, an intellectual property law teacher at Texas A&M, composes in The New York Times. “My research study has shown that there are lots of trademarks declined on ethical grounds that have also been signed up by other candidates. This disparity develops because marks that are outrageous or disparaging to one examiner might be appropriate to another.”.
Carpenter is right when she mentions that there’s no formula, no strict boundary that separates the offensive from the non-offensive, and more significantly, that professionals who handle arcane matters of intellectual property laws “cannot be expected to be the arbiter of a cumulative and ever-evolving ethical requirement.”.
The employees at the Patent and Trademark Office must be interested in something– whether a candidate’s asked for hallmark benefits approval.
Let consumers be the taste-makers, let people vote with their wallets and decide which companies deserve their business. If consumers are offended by a clothes company called “You Can’t Make a Housewife Out of a Whore” (which exists, per the Daily Caller), then they will not purchase items from that company. Individuals who founded it will need to go back to the drawing board, hopefully learning a lesson about the borders of taste.
Critics love to discuss government overreach, and the hallmark problem is a traditional case of the government sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong. Let’s hope the Supreme Court concurs.